Game of Thrones is boring - and so is most 'prestige TV'
It's fair to say that 'Game of Thrones' has evolved from mere TV show to bona fide cultural phenomenon.
It's fair to say that 'Game of Thrones' has evolved from mere TV show to bona fide cultural phenomenon.
David Lynch is a genius. There, I've said it. I know many people hate Lynch's work, and think it's pretentious, weird or just plain bad. And they're fully entitled to that wrong opinion.
This is Christy opens and closes on the same image: Aslan playing the Iveagh Gardens, just a few days ago. It’s been 29 years, amazingly, since the...
Do you remember Rattlebag? It was an arts and entertainment show on Radio 1, presented by Myles Dungan; it ran for several years, until about a decade ago. Pretty good stuff, all told.
God bless you, Pat Hickey. As outlined here before, sports scandals like the one involving the former Olympic Council of Ireland president serve a valuable public function.
'No, I don't agree at all." The first thing said by Tory MP John Redwood to stand-in Cormac Ó hEadhra on Today with Sean O'Rourke (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 10am) - and it set the tone for a thoroughly entertaining segment.
The original idea for glossy thriller Riviera came from none other than U2’s former manager Paul McGuinness. Leading lady Julia Stiles talks about the show’s Irish links and how they attracted her to take on the starring role in the series...
News is such a massive presence nowadays, especially in media, that it's almost impossible to escape. Whether politics, war, sport, entertainment, crime or whatever else, news is a colossal Ozymandias statue towering over the lone and level sands of everything else.
It may be a little dull for a thriller but Ruth Ware's third book excels as an exploration of friendship and adolescence.
Created by Neil Jordan – who co-writes – with John Banville also on scripting duties for some episodes, Riviera has quite a pedigree, even by the standards of modern-day “Prestige TV”.
Goodbye House, which aired on RTE One on Monday night, is a reality TV show.
So, after a shaky start, Leo wins the day in the Fine Gael leadership death match - I'd put it as a 3-1 or 4-1 victory, in soccer terms. And the most remarkable thing about it, in radio terms, was...
Missing You, which began on Wednesday night, is a new six-part series about the Diaspora. But there’s a twist: this show explores how the Irish abroad are using new technology to better deal with this...
Imperial Prague in 1599 is the shadowy setting as John Banville's crime-writing alter ego gets historical.
I was going to concentrate this column on Simon and Leo's race for Fine Gael leadership. Maybe a bit about Enda Kenny, too, one of those retrospectives running at the weekend.
Grange Abbey feels like something from the 1980s. You'll note I didn't specify a book, but the more general "something": this debut Irish novel will remind you as much of sex-and-shoulder-pads soaps, or those mini-series which always seemed to star Michael York or Richard Chamberlain, as that decade's Wilbur Smith and Sidney Sheldon potboilers. This, by the way, is a good thing. Nothing wrong...
Oh, this is just getting ridiculous. The amazingly prophetic powers of this column are now seemingly being proven on a weekly basis.
The GAA championship is back, God is in His or Her heaven, and all is right with the world.
With echoes of hit TV shows and movies from Homeland to Hurt Locker, Brian Van Reet's debut works equally well as a geopolitical action-thriller and a literary novel. Set during the early phase of the Iraq war, in 2003, Spoils is quite short and briskly paced, hurtling to a genuinely exciting climax.
'Fifty percent Kurdish, 50pc Irish… 100pc Thomas Davis (GAA club)." So said Shane Coleman of his guest, Zak Moradi, on Newstalk Breakfast (Mon-Fri 6.30am). He added, "It's a great story, an absolutely brilliant story" - and that it certainly is.
The Undocumented, which aired on RTÉ on Monday night, peeled back the skin of all those recent headlines and comment pieces, to explore what exactly it means to be illegal and Irish in America.
Late Late specials are – let’s be needlessly brutal in our honesty here – pretty much the only reason to watch the show anymore.
New Zealand-born but long-time resident in Ireland, Julie Parsons boasts a CV more varied than the average author. As well as producing five previous crime novels, she's worked as a radio and TV producer for RTÉ and written a novella and radio plays.
Well, am I the Nostradamus of radio columnists or what?
Assassins: Ireland’s Contract Killers, which began on TV3 tonight, is the latest “true crime” show to hit our screens. The genre shows no signs of – ahem – dying off any time soon, and little wonder: this stuff is unfeasibly popular with the public.
The first Blue Nile gig had an audience of…two. Which is less than the band itself.
In the blood-drenched annals of human history, has any people been more grievously wronged than American Indians? Jews, possibly, but Native Americans would run them a close second: their mistreatment, since Columbus landed, has been atrocious.
Newstalk is running, until the end of April, a series of special reports on "100 Days of Trump" (there is, of course, a hashtag: #Trump100). And I'm afraid my first reaction, on hearing this, was: "Oh for God's sake."
Ivan Yates is back on Newstalk, with a new Sunday show going - to quote that deranged cowboy in Doctor Strangelove - "toe-to-toe in nook-ular combat" with Marian Finucane.
As we in print media know only too well, online technology has been a bit of a disaster for many people. In our case, essentially, digital is making the "print" part obsolete. Fewer papers bought, fewer jobs for people like me.
A troubled man goes into a psychiatrist's office. The good doc shows him a series of Rorschach inkblot tests, asking before each one: "What do you see?"
Martin McGuinness, who died this week, was only 66. That seems very young, partly I think because the Republican has been a feature of public life in Ireland for so long - part of the culture, the iconography, the collective mind - that you assume he must have been older.
Fir, Marú & Grá, which began last night on TG4, is another of those “true crime” series that viewers seemingly can’t get enough of. This one explores, through dramatic reconstructions and expert talking-heads, what drove six men to kill their romantic partners (the title translates as Men, Killing and Love).
Gina Miller, the British businesswoman who brought a court action against Brexit, has paid a high price for it. We heard on World in Motion (Newstalk, Sat 9pm) that a man had been convicted of sending online threats to Miller - the first time this has happened in the UK.
I once interviewed Dara Ó Briain and it was, in a roundabout sort of way, a slightly surreal experience - because he was exactly as I'd expected. Talking to someone whose name and face and personality you think you know, a part of the brain expects the reality to be different: that they'll be not as funny as on telly, or funnier, or nicer, or not as nice, or whatever.
Summer 1816, and it feels like the end of days are coming to Dublin. For one thing, summer doesn't feel like summer: it's cold, foggy, even snowy, the apparent consequence of a Pacific Ocean volcano eruption.
TV3’s Doctor in the House returned for a third season tonight, with a personnel tweak to the familiar format. Here are some things we learned from the first episode.
It was, apparently, the greatest cock-up in Oscars history: Warren Beatty reading out the wrong winner of Best Picture. And such is the enormous reach and heft of the hydra-headed beast that is Hollywood - this glitzy ICBM fired straight at us by the Entertainment-Industrial Complex - that coverage of Warren's snafu was all over the shop.
Throughout his brilliant film-directing career, Neil Jordan has deftly moved between realism (The Crying Game, say, or The Brave One) and fantastical (Interview with the Vampire, The Company of Wolves).
Perhaps ironically - or, now that I think about it, perhaps not - crime fiction has long proved fertile ground for women writers, these days more than ever. Since her debut in 2010, Dubliner Jane Casey has briskly carved out her own space in the field, with the London-based Maeve Kerrigan series of police procedurals.
Was Andy Warhol the greatest artist of the 20th century? He's certainly one of the most iconic: everybody knows those screen-prints of Marilyn and Mao, the painstaking paintings of coke bottles, the (ironically) timeless catchphrase about "15 minutes of fame" which pre-empted the celebrity age.
Will robots conquer the planet? It's been a fear of humankind for decades: that these machines we've made will become ever-more clever, eventually achieving self-awareness (or whatever is the computerised version of that) and enslaving us all in their underground silicon mines.
For the last few years, over two weeks, The Eoghan McDermott Show (2FM, Mon-Fri 4pm) has become something quite rare in broadcasting: a home for the Irish language on a pop music station.
John Wick is back, and I’m as excited as a fat man locked in a room full of cream cakes…who’s just swallowed the key. The first film, released in 2015, was a brilliant action-thriller. This very newspaper – indeed, this very writer – said it “rocked like a hurricane”, which for action-thrillers is the critical equivalent of the Nobel Prize.
For such a small country, Ireland has punched above its weight at the Oscars. Since Dublin-born set designer Cedric Gibbons won the first of 11 - yes, 11 - Academy Awards for Best Production Design in 1930, the green flag has flown frequently at cinema's most prestigious ceremony.
'Loving books can mean to love reading books. But it can also mean loving the physical objects themselves, or it can mean both. It can also mean being anxious about not reading enough books, or the book you're reading now as opposed to the many other books piled around your home. Or the ones in the bookshop you failed to buy."
It’s about two years since Ray D’Arcy left Today FM for RTE in a highly publicised, and very big-money, return to where it all started, for a two-pronged assault on the public’s affections, radio and telly. Has it been worth it?
A lot of people had a lot to say about Donald Trump lately. (Sorry: President Trump. Wow - it still feels surreal to be writing that…)
A lyrical journey by foot and canoe along our border with the North veers from travelogue to memoir to history lesson.
Given this week's Americo-centric theme with Donald Trump's inauguration, it's time for a quick return to one of my favourite things to get irrationally infuriated by: stupid, put-on American accents. Currently, our fine radio stations are running adverts (various stations, any bloody time) for two colleges - WIT and UL - and a shopping centre in Galway, and all feature people talking in that annoying twang.
Say hello and welcome to the latest in a seemingly endless line of mystery novels whose title begins with "The Girl…" Never mind that the girl who kicked the hornet's nest, was on the train or in the ice, or most of these titular girls are actually women, some of them past their twenties (can you really call a thirtysomething a "girl"?).
Trainspotting – that quintessentially 1990s film in many ways – is back. On January 27 we’ll get our first look at T2, director Danny Boyle’s sequel to his ‘96 cult classic. The whole gang are back, too: Renton, Spud, Begbie, Diane, Sick Boy…I still feel sad for poor old Tommy who, of course – SPOILER ALERT FOR SLOWCOACHES – died in the first film. But will that be enough to save this sequel?
First Dates Ireland returned for a second series tonight, and lo… it was pretty damn good.
Tomorrow the US will get a new president, the Western world will get a new de facto leader and - if the more hysterical comment pieces are to be believed - the seal will be loosed on a wrath of demons which will flood forth from hell and lay waste to all the world until the end of time. Plus, there may be an accompanying tag-team of the Four Horseman of the Apocalypse.
Among many, many other things, I hate cooking almost as much as Donald Trump hates LOSING! and people who are SAD! (Exclamations are Donald’s, not mine.)
When the zombie apocalypse comes, how long do you think humankind will survive? According to a group of students at the University of Leicester, less than 100 days. Gulp.
The Book of Mirrors comes with a backstory almost worth a novel in itself. This mystery is the English language debut of EO Chirovici, a bestselling author in his native Romania.
We may live in a largely post-religious world, but for most of us, there's something enduringly compelling about things like Ouija boards, haunted houses, demonic possession and exorcisms.
Monday night's documentary The Great Irish Sell-Off (RTÉ One) saw Sunday Business Post editor Ian Kehoe unravelling the story of how vulture funds have bought up a whole chunk of this country – and given that there doesn’t seem much we can do about it, it was really more of a horror story than anything else.
Tonight saw the first ever Irish iteration of Strictly Come Dancing, with ten celebrities taking to the…
It's customary, at this time of year, to look ahead to the next 12 months, perhaps making some predictions about what's going to happen, across politics, art, sport and so on. Being a cantankerous sort, though - not to mention a highly paid and much-in-demand professional contrarian - I decided to more-or-less ignore all that and look instead to the past.
Five questions to test your knowledge on the past 12 months in cinema.
The past, someone wrote, is another country. If this year is anything to go by, though, it's a country most of us have no intention of leaving. I used to think it was mainly Generation X-ers who were besotted with yesterday (all those t-shirts of 1970s bands and conversational quotes from old TV shows). But it's all adults now, all ages. In 2016, the past was very much present - to a large degree, the past was 2016.
The GAA's decision to remove live commentary rights from Newstalk seems a strange one, to say the least. The independent station has done a really fine job with their match coverage on Off the Ball (Sat-Sun 12 noon, Mon-Fri 7pm).
When Anton Savage (Today FM, Mon-Fri 9am) was announced as Ray D'Arcy's mid-morning replacement, almost two years ago now, I wasn't in favour. This hadn't really anything to do with Savage, mind you.
This is Ireland is a kind of Schrodinger’s TV show: it’s simultaneously familiar and unexpected.
The people of Ireland, as this book attests, "do death well": both the lead-up to it, and the aftermath. In this rich collection of essays, we run the gamut of that entire collective experience, from ancient times to modern practices - many of which, of course, are carrying on time-honoured traditions.
For some reason that I don't quite understand, certain times really lend themselves to settings for crime novels. The Thirties, the post-WWII era, the near-future, the sleazy Seventies - and the late Victorian age.
Now here's a lovely thing. A collection of short stories, rich and surprising like a hearty stew, edited by the great crime writer Lawrence Block (who also contributes the final tale)… and all inspired by the paintings of Edward Hopper.
Was President Michael D Higgins right or wrong in his eulogy to Fidel Castro? It certainly stirred up a hornet's nest on radio, and for once reaction was justified: it's a serious thing, the leader of our country making allegedly over-kind pronouncements on such a divisive figure.
Is there anything worse than a bad sex scene in a book? (Apart, maybe, from a bad sex scene in real life.) There you are, mentally immersed in this fictional universe, lost in an invented world, and suddenly… a clumsy, clunky, cringy sex scene blunders into view, waving its unmentionables about, and breaks the magic.
Ever feel like there’s just too much new TV out there? Yeah, me too. Apparently more than 350 drama and comedy series now debut each year, which is more telly than God Him/Herself could watch, even with an eternity to do the watching. Also, because so many of these shows come slathered in enough hype to make Don King embarrassed, you never quite know which ones to commit to.
Tuesday night's second part of Paul Williams: State of Fear on TV3 continued the examination of Irish organised crime, from the shocking 1996 killings of Veronica Guerin and Jerry McCabe, to the current turf war between the Kinahan and Hutch gangs.
Following Gangsters at War earlier this year, Paul Williams returned to TV3 tonight with the first of two parts of State of Fear.
The story of the woman behind the adoption and brainwashing of 28 children makes for a hair-raising and disturbing read.
It happened with Game of Thrones. It happened with Breaking Bad and Mad Men. It almost happened with The Wire during the interminable tedium of those union/port scenes, though that wobble was eventually cleared. And now it appears to be happening with Westworld. Seven episodes in, I’m on the verge of quitting.
Since Donald Trump's election there have been thousands of words written about "culture wars", in the US and around the world. The soul of a nation, or a people, is expressed in its culture, I suppose.
Mark Frost's novel fills in some of the blanks ahead of a new series of the cult hit of the 1990s.
My first thought on hearing the radio news this Wednesday: well, that was a surprise.
I know I say this every year, but… I love Halloween, me. And unlike every clown who nowadays claims to love it more than any other holiday, I actually have always loved it.
Well, Newstalk's big autumn reshuffle happened over a month ago, the new people and shows are bedded in to some extent, so it's time, I feel, for a status report. A bit like what my colleagues in the political department do with those "grades for Ministers" articles midway between general elections, or the sports guys' "mid-season rankings" during the seemingly interminable nuclear winter that is the Premier League season.
The death of Anthony Foley on Sunday was genuinely shocking. Not only because he was famous and a great rugby player in his day, or because of the tragic loss for two small children of their father, and a young woman of her life-partner. Not even because of the eerie sort of irony in the fact that he died while in Paris to oversee a Munster match.
Adolf Hitler, a fanatic in so many ways, was also - as a sort of historical addendum - a health fanatic. One of the worst monsters in history, the personification of evil, responsible for the torture and deaths of millions… and a prissy, sanctimonious moraliser when it came to people's personal choices about what they put in their bodies.
It’s the wonderful circle of life: just as boxer Tyson Fury announces his retirement and everyone starts to get a bit bored with Conor McGregor, fight-fans are saved by the return of Cutting Edge.
As a published novelist myself (don't worry, you've never heard of any of my work), I fully appreciate just what an achievement it is to get a book out there, in the real world.
What about that Budget, eh? Good old Budget Day. Yeah, you gotta love that Budget. You know, with the whole budgeting thing going on there…
Pat Kenny had one of those unfortunate moments where he channelled his inner Alan Partridge, while discussing with a guest whether Hillary was competent and qualified to run the United States on Wednesday's show.
In many ways, poetry is the purest form of literature, maybe all art. For one thing, nobody ever wrote it to make money or get famous.
Unlike most of her peers, Margaret Atwood has always flitted between genres. While all her work is evidently "literary" - beautifully written, tackling big themes, psychologically astute and intellectually profound - she's never limited herself to similar books in similar settings.
As my many devoted readers (okay, three, and one of them is me) will know, I have a rather large stone in my shoe about radio's obsession with America, particularly American politics.
Robert Harris produces yet another gripping novel exploring the seductive lure of power.
Family is a funny thing. Listening to Sunday with Miriam (Radio 1, 10am), I was thinking how odd it is to have such strongly opposed views on siblings.
The word "hero" is so overused in modern society, it's become almost meaningless. Caitríona Lucas, who died this week during a sea rescue off the Clare coast, was a true hero, in the most profound sense.
You might not think it from my boyish good looks and/or juvenile writing, but I’m old enough (just about) to remember the cultural phenomenon that was “Who shot JR?”
The past 100 years in Ireland started with a bang, 50 years of hard slog followed and later years of enlightenment. Plenty of material, then, for an autobiography of our nation, says our reviewer, but it's not exactly an easy read
Paul Kimmage, of the Sunday Independent, popped up on The Last Word (Today FM, Mon-Fri 4.30pm) after a very entertaining All-Ireland hurling final. He had Matt play a quote from a Woody Allen movie, essentially declaring that all life was meaningless and depressing.
This week's tragedy in Cavan was one of those things which are almost beyond comprehension. The death of Alan and Clodagh Hawe and their children Niall, Ryan and Liam was horrific - and impossible to fathom.
The fictional diary has a fine old lineage in literature: everything from Bridget Jones to Diary of a Wimpy Kid to (for the most part) Dracula.
The Pat Hickey case continues to rumble on, with saturation coverage across talk radio. Just for a few examples: Morning Ireland (Radio 1, Mon-Fri 7am) heard about proposed terms of reference for the official inquiry into the matter; the same station's Liveline (Mon-Fri 1.45pm) talked to family members of Olympians about problems they had securing tickets.
Early in The Call, 14-year-old Nessa Doherty is sitting on a bus with best friend Megan, en route from their Donegal home to Boyle, Co Roscommon. A good-looking young lad gets on at Omagh; they chat, maybe flirt a little. And then… he disappears.
On a recent Friday evening, I sent an annoyed text to a friend, reading: "Just heard Guns N' Roses' 'November Rain' being played… on Friday Night 80s. Eh, that was released in 1992. Schoolboy error, Today FM. For shame!"
It's early winter, Belfast is cold and depressing, and schoolgirl Nollaig is in trouble. As in, she's both in trouble - her life is kind of a mess - and "in trouble", to use that possibly outmoded term for pregnant.
"The universe: what remains to be discovered?" Well I don't know for sure, but there's a hell of a programme title.
The Unseeing is the debut novel from London-based solicitor Anna Mazzola, and it's an absolute belter. A mixture of historical fiction and murder mystery, it uses an infamous real-life case as inspiration for a (mostly) fictional story that's wonderfully entertaining.
The Olympics began this weekend. Will you be following it? I don't know that I will.
The world is going to hell in a handbasket. Right? That's the impression we get, anyway, from following the news.
"There were people flying, going under the wheels, crushed, screaming… it was horrific. People just dying in front of you."
I probably wouldn't be the biggest fan of filmmaker Jim Sheridan - and that thing he made with 50 Cent was awful - but there's no denying he's had a great career on the whole.
Five years ago, Paul Clements wrote a travel book titled Burren Country, which I enjoyed very much (possibly because I live just on the edge of that wondrous moon-like landscape - I'm looking at it right now as I type).
Riggs and Murtagh. Batman and Robin. Ernie and Bert. To this list of odd couples that were just crazy enough to work, we could add Ivan Yates and Chris Donoghue - and this week was the first without them.
Today is the Fourth of July, which is best-known, of course, for two reasons. As any fool knows, it’s the date on which Johann Georg Turmair, AKA Johannes Aventinus, the Bavarian Renaissance humanist, historian and philologist, was born in 1477. And it’s the title of one of the better songs on Side Two of Soundgarden’s epic 1994 grunge album Superunknown (forming the third point of a kick-ass triptych with Kickstand and Fresh Tendrils).
The gene, as Siddhartha Mukherjee puts it in this rather wonderful book, is "inscrutable, vulnerable, resilient, adaptable, repetitive, unique… designed to survive… it resembles us".